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Trump Attorneys to Meet with Special Council; Kushner Looks to Hire Crisis-Management P.R. Team During Probe; Trump Considers Pardoning Michael Flynn; White House Contradicts Tillerson on No Precondition North Korea Talks; Compromise Tax Plan Could See Vote Tuesday; Texas Rep. Farenthold to Retire Amid Harassment Accusations; Black Man Meets Klansman to Discuss Race Issues; Black Man Meets Klansman to Discuss Race Issues; Heather Heyer's Mother Blames Trump in Part for Daughter's Death; Rehab Facilities Reach Out to Heroin- Addicted Mother of Baby Hope; "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" Having Stellar Opening Weekend. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 16, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I hope your weekend is off to a good start. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being here.
We begin with the legal showdown of the year. Sources telling CNN President Trump's private lawyers are set to meet with Robert Mueller as early as next week. What do they hope to learn when they sit down with the special counsel? That answer in just a few.
Plus, Trump is on the verge of his first legislative victory since taking office. The Republicans in Congress are now set to push their tax cut bill over the finish line. What's in and what's out? I'll speak with the member of the House ready to vote.
Finally, a CNN exclusive. I'll be speaking with the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer, who now says a hateful agenda she sees as pushed, in part, by President Trump, is partly to blame for her daughter's death.
But first, what could be a pivotal meeting between President Trump's lawyers and the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Sources telling CNN the two teams could sit down as early as this coming week. The president's lawyers are said to be hoping for signs that the investigation is close to wrapping up. We're told they're staying positive over the fact that out of all the documents Mueller has requested so far, few have had to do with the president directly. Another high-level White House official however doesn't appear to think the probe will be over so soon.
"Washington Post" reports that Jared Kushner has looked to hire a crisis-management P.R. team. You'll recall he has been a focus of the probe.
Amid all of this, the president is raising the specter he may still pardon his friend and former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to talk about pardons of Michael Flynn yet. We'll see what happens. Let's see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: With me now to discuss all of these threads and more, is Republican Congressman Francis Rooney, of Florida.
Congressman, thank you so much for spending some time with us to answer these questions today.
As Trump's lawyers are optimistic that the Mueller investigation is nearing completion, we are hearing this week from the ranking member of the House Intel Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, who is investigating Russia election meddling as well. He is expressing concern that Republicans are trying to rush to end their investigation. Do you think that would be premature?
REP. FRANCIS ROONEY, (R), FLORIDA: Well, what I hope the Trump legal team does is get in Mr. Mueller's face a little bit about his team and how compromised they are. These things come out this past week are incredibly shocking.
CABRERA: OK. But why do you think that his team is compromised.
ROONEY: How about Bruce Ohr? How about that Strzok guy --
ROONEY: Bruce Ohr has never been part of the team investigating Russia.
CABRERA: I thought he was on Mueller's investigative team.
CABRERA: He's a member of the FBI. He's not on Mueller's investigating team.
CABRERA: It's important to make sure we have those facts.
CABRERA: But back to the question, which is, initially, the congressional investigation.
ROONEY: I'm sorry. I was thinking of Rhee and Weissman, the other two. Sorry. I got confused.
CABRERA: No, I give you credit.
ROONEY: They're all Democrat partisans. Yes. CABRERA: I give you credit. I know it's difficult to keep track. There are so many developments in this Russia investigation.
When it comes to the congressional probe, would it be premature to be trying to end that investigation at this point?
ROONEY: Well, I don't want to see the investigation end until they get to the bottom of that dossier that Mr. -- I forget -- Rod Rosenberg (sic), wouldn't answer about last week. We've got to find out, did they use that dossier to get a warrant to go after Carter Page?
CABRERA: So that is the most important question in your mind?
ROONEY: It's a big one. Because that gets to the abuse of the people that are doing the investigation and compromises the team.
CABRERA: I don't understand how you see that the team would be compromised. You and many other Republicans were very supportive of Robert Mueller's investigation all along. And let's remember there are members on his team that are Republicans themselves in terms of political affiliation. But what we heard from Rod Rosenstein is there's no reason to believe that members of Mueller's team are compromised. He says there's a difference between political opinion and political bias and he believes that Mueller is proceeding to his mandate in a very professional way. That's what I heard at the hearing that we aired publicly here on CNN this week.
CABRERA: Let me ask you a question about Michael Flynn, who we heard the president make comments earlier this week, on Friday, that he has not ruled out, at the very least, giving Michael Flynn a pardon. He has already pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller's team. Who knows where that's going to lead in terms of that plea deal? But would you be concerned if the president pardoned Flynn?
[15:05:03] ROONEY: Well, I think it would be premature to do anything until all this stuff is run to ground. There's still been no evidence of Trump collusion with Russians, no evidence of Russian succeeding and influencing our elections, just a lot of a somewhat partisan investigation.
CABRERA: Wait, wait wait. Let me stop you for just a moment though. When you say that there is no evidence that Russia influenced the election, I mean, all of the intelligence agencies concluded that Russia did, indeed, meddle in the U.S. election.
ROONEY: Meddled, yes. But succeeded, no.
CABRERA: OK. I don't know if that is a conclusion that we can draw at this point based on the ongoing investigation.
Real quick, because you are the vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I want to ask you about the State Department and some the questions surrounding the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He made waves this week saying the U.S. is ready to talk to North Korea without conditions, but the White House quick to put out a statement saying, now is not the time to talk. What is the right approach right now?
ROONEY: Well I think that the -- whether it's the White House or State Department or both, they have done more than others have previously been done in getting China to engage. That's in part due to the hard line and clear line in the sand that we've put. North Korea's basically a colony of China and we have got to get them to take responsibility for them.
CABRERA: Senator Lindsey Graham, who we know has been golfing with the president recently, has had a chance to bend his ear, he believes there's a 30 percent chance a military option could be used on North Korea. He says that goes up to 70 percent if another nuclear test is conducted. Do you agree with that?
ROONEY: I'm a little more optimistic than that. I think that the Chinese leaders are rational actors pursuing their own state interests, and I don't see how their state interest involves a lot of nuclear weapons being lobbed back and forth across the Pacific.
CABRERA: You're not worried about military action?
ROONEY: Oh, I'm worried about it, but I'm not as pessimistic as Senator Graham. As long as we keep the hard line on China and China keeps applying more and more sanctions, I think we might be able to avoid that problem.
CABRERA: The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reflecting on his year, and he acknowledged there have been no wins on the board. He says diplomacy is hard. Do you believe Rex Tillerson should still have his job?
ROONEY: Well, I think there's a big problem in the State Department now of not enough appointees. I don't know whether it's the secretary or the White House or what the problem is. I know from our days in the Bush administration, we got our team in place and started practicing the exercise of our diplomacy to pursue the president's principles, and they can't do right now. They don't have the people.
CABRERA: Do you believe the secretary of the state should have the job he has?
ROONEY: Well, I think he certainly does have the credentials, having been CEO of a global oil company. He's spent so much time around the world. But you can't do it alone. The State Department is a huge institution and needs a lot of assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries, bureau chiefs. They're the ones that do the blocking and tackling of day to day diplomacy.
CABRERA: So, yes or no, do you have confidence in the secretary of state? ROONEY: I have confidence in Mr. Tillerson I've known Mr. Tillerson
for many years, and I have great confidence in him. But he can't do it alone. You know the expression, you're a one-arm paper hanger if you don't have enough team to execute the mission.
CABRERA: There are still 33 vacancies, the present hasn't even nominated to fill.
ROONEY: I know. We've got to get people in there. We've already spent a whole year of a four-year administration with a severely crippled Department of State.
CABRERA: Who do you blame for that?
ROONEY: There's probably blame to go all around. The Senate has been awfully slow on the confirmations. Maybe they're dispirited that they won't be able to get anybody confirmed. The ambassador confirmations are running way behind as well. It seems like the whole confirmation process has become more sporadic than it has ever been.
CABRERA: It sounds like you're saying, throw the hands up, it's a bummer, it's not happening, it's not. But where is the, I guess, the teeth to do something to change it?
ROONEY: Well, I would like to see more names put up and more pressure applied to the Senate to get their debate done and get their people out of committee and get them confirmed.
[15:09:15] CABRERA: OK. Congressman Rooney, stay with me. I want to ask you about the policy as well.
Coming up, Republicans finding themselves in the cusp of passing the most radical tax overhaul in decades. We'll look at what's in the new plan, what it can mean for you.
Also ahead, what do the words "transgender, fetus and diversity" all have in common? The answer has some government health experts furious at the Trump administration.
CABRERA: Republicans in Congress are calling it a Christmas gift to the American people, that's the president's word choice, at least, a reform bill that overhauls the American tax code for the first time in more than 30 years. The final form is a compromise hammered out between the House and Senate and could go to vote as soon as Tuesday.
Here are a few of the plan's key points. I won't read of them, but there's the $2,000 child tax credit. The removal of the Obamacare individual mandate. Top tax bracket, 37 percent, which is one of several lower tax brackets.
President Trump today promising a positive impact on jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be great for jobs. It will be fantastic for the middle-income people and for jobs. It will also benefit lots of other things. I mean, we're looking to -- if you look at the whole thing, everybody's going to benefit. But I think the greatest benefit is going to be for jobs and for the middle class, middle income.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Our congressional reporter, Lauren Fox, joining us now from Washington.
Lauren, the president predicting job growth from this tax plan. How would that work exactly? Simplify it for us in terms of those lower tax brackets and higher child tax credits? Might that translate into jobs?
[15:14:57] LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: What we heard from the president is that someone who is so excited about the fact that he could get a major political win from Capitol Hill. Of course, some of the ways that Republicans are arguing that this tax bill will help Americans is the fact that a lot of corporations are getting major tax breaks, both the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, but as well as a lower corporate tax rate. They argue that's going to help Americans because corporations will then pass that -- those increases in revenue into Americans' pocketbooks. That's one way they see this helping Americans. Democrats, of course, dispute that.
The other way is you have things like an expanded child tax credit. That's something Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, fought very hard for. He got his way. In terms of increasing the refundability piece of that, something helping lower-income Americans, and just generally lower tax rates for individuals. We should note, of course, that many of those sunset at the end of 2025. Democrats saying, of course, this is just a big Christmas gift for corporations and that Americans shouldn't expect too much more money in their pockets.
Democrats and Republicans see this very differently, of course, on Capitol Hill.
CABRERA: Politically, this could be a huge win for Republicans. They are elated. There have been few and far between in terms of major agenda items. Talk about how Democrats in Congress are responding to this. Did they get something in terms of a compromise?
FOX: Democrats weren't really involved in this process. I think that's something they've been saying from the beginning. Republicans are using a process known as reconciliation, that requires only a simple majority of votes, and they have that in the U.S. Senate. So Democrats really haven't been part of this process. That's been something we've heard from them over and over again. Of course. Senate majority leader. Mitch McConnell, has argued, if you are complaining about the process, then you're losing when it comes to legislation.
CABRERA: All right. Lauren Fox, thank so much for breaking it down. I want to get back to Florida Republican Congressman Francis Rooney.
That you so much, Congressman, for sticking with us.
You sit on the House Joint Economic Committee. Do you love this bill?
ROONEY: I don't think you ever love any broad compromise, but I think it's got enough good things in it that's' going to be valuable for the American taxpayers and our corporations. You know, if you combine the lower --
CABRERA: Do you see it as just a gift for the corporations?
ROONEY: Oh, no. I don't see it as a gift. I see it bringing the corporate rate down to the rate that the rest of the corporations around the world pay. I think that will probably draw corporations into the United States that aren't here now. Prevent corporations in the U.S. from leaving. That's good. That can lead to economic expansion. And when you combine it with the expensing of capital equipment expenditures, it should create some jobs.
CABRERA: How much is about supporting policy in this bill and how much is it about getting a win on the board?
ROONEY: Well, for me, it's all about the policy and what it does to the American economy and American taxpayers. I would have rather that it were more simple. I liked the House version one, before it got attacked by lobbyists and had a few things carved back on. But I still think, over all, it's the best compromise that we're going to get.
CABRERA: I know tax reform has been a Republican goal for years, but, why now? We have a soaring stock market, unemployment rate at a 17- year low. Especially this -- when you look at the potential to add $1 trillion-plus to America's debt, why now?
ROONEY: The stock market started taking off after President Trump won the election. It's continued pretty much unabated ever since. I think people were glad to get rid of the regulatory stranglehold that the Obama administration put on everybody and get back to --
CABRERA: Why do corporations need help?
ROONEY: Well, capital's fungible. It's going to move around the world to where it's treated best. If the corporate rate goes down to a rate that's competitive with the world, we will be able to attract more capital here.
CABRERA: As you reflect on your party, beyond this legislative victory, you guys may be on the cusp of, you're also coming on the heels of a stunning defeat this week in Alabama, a state that voted for Trump in double digits, hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years. Alabama is about as red a state as it comes. Does that spell trouble for Republicans in 2018?
ROONEY: I don't think the Alabama case is any indicator of what will happen in 2018. I think that's an indicator that this Moore fellow was such a wholly defective individual he had no business being in the Senate.
CABRERA: He was the Republican nominee.
ROONEY: I know, much to my dismay. I was for Strange.
CABRERA: There's no doubt the sexual allegations may have played a role in the race. But one of your colleagues in the House, Representative Farenthold, is under fire right now as well for sexual harassment allegations. He's accused of also fostering an abusive work environment. He actually settled sexual harassment allegations with a $84,000 settlement in 2015. I know he said this week he's going to retire, but that's the same as resigning. We have seen others congress members resign. So where are the consequences?
[15:20:23] ROONEY: I'll tell you, Ana, if it were me, I'd have all of these people resign now and get as much of the slime and scourge out of the House and Senate as we can possibly do. Unfortunately, it's bipartisan slime and scourge.
CABRERA: Should Farenthold resign?
ROONEY: Yes. He should. I think all these guys should. I don't think they should be using government money to pay for the settlements. I think it ought to be much more transparent. That's why I immediately jumped onto Barbara Comstock's bill when she proposed it last week.
CABRERA: Our reporting is Speaker Paul Ryan may be doing soul searching. He may retire in the next year. What's your reaction to that?
ROONEY: Well, I heard that rumor yesterday myself. I hope he doesn't. He's a very thoughtful individual. We had a little milestone last week where we passed the continuing resolution a couple of weeks ago with only Republican votes, which shows he's been able to unify both the moderate Republican Tuesday group and the extremely conservative Freedom Caucus and bring our conference closer together than it's ever been.
CABRERA: Congressman Francis Rooney, thank you for your time.
ROONEY: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Amid the chaos of the tax reform debate, the Trump administration reportedly sent a list of forbidden words to the nation's top public health agency. According to "The Washington Post," the CDC is now banned from using seven words or phrases in its budget documents. These include "vulnerable, diversity, transgender, fetus, science based." The Department of Health and Human Services is currently denying that report. Coming up, the exclusive interview with the mother of Charlottesville
victim, Heather Heyer. Her ongoing battle to protect her daughter. Why she has to keep the location of her ashes a secret, next.
[15:26:30] CABRERA: In Charlottesville, Virginia, the man accused of ramming his car into people protesting a white nationalist rally is now facing tougher charges. Suspect James Alex Field is now accused of first-degree murder for the August 12 incident that left 32-year- old Heather Heyer dead and more than 30 people injured. Outside his court hearing this week, racial divides were on display. Protesters clashed with white nationalists. But amid this chaos, one black man sat down and talked with an imperial wizard Klansman.
CNN's Sara Sidner was there for their remarkable exchange.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No one could forget what happened here in August when white nationalists showed up in Charlottesville as did counter protesters. But four months later, we want to show you what happened when the KKK showed up and went to court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not come into our city and try to rewrite history.
SIDNER (voice-over): In Charlottesville, emotions are raw, tensions still high.
SIDNER: Four months after hate turned into homicide here, members of the Ku Klux Klan showed up and were confronted outside court. Here to support a member of the Klan who did this.
SIDNER: Also in court, James Field, the man accused of driving his car into a crowd, killing young protester, Heather Heyer, in August. And the man who brought the white nationalists, Unite the Right, rally to Charlottesville.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't do anything in this town.
SIDNER: In the midst of those trying to scream down hate, a rare occurrence.
DARYL DAVIS, BLUES MUSICIAN: What's going on, man. How you doing?
Daryl Davis, a blues musician, and imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan agree to meet and find common ground.
DAVIS: As Americans, your Confederate history is as much a part of my history as my black history is.
BILLY SNUFFER, IMPERIAL WIZARD, KU KLUX KLAN: Sure. It is.
DAVIS: It's time we got to know one another.
SNUFFER: You're exactly right.
DAVIS: So how do we convince these people to say, hey, look, we can spend all our life arguing or we can move forward.
SNUFFER: You know, as well as I do, my organization has a bad history.
SIDNER: But their meeting wasn't welcome by some.
DAVIS: Let me ask you a question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. You can't ask me a question about racists.
DAVIS: Well, then you have no solution then.
SIDNER: Davis says he does, and has the KKK ropes to prove it.
DAVIS: Forty-four, 45.
SIDNER (voice-over): How many ropes have you gotten from the Klansmen.
DAVIS: About 44, 45. And Klanswomen.
SIDNER: And Klanswomen?
SIDNER: Who have said, what?
DAVIS: They're done. As a result of meeting me, and having this conversation. Not overnight but over time.
SIDNER (voice-over): For more than 30 years, Davis has been on a mission to change minds, especially of those who would rather see him dead.
He was drawn to Charlottesville, in part, because he said the Unite the Right rally was not about saving Confederate statues.
DAVIS: The reason they were there was to initiate the first steps of a race war.
SIDNER: Surprisingly, Klan leader, Billy Snuffer, agreed wholeheartedly.
DAVIS: A lot of them were not here for the statue.
DAVIS: They were here to cause a race war.
DAVIS: That's exactly right.
SIDNER: A descendent of slaves trying to make inroads with the Virginia Klan leader, a chance of change they know will be a long road.
DAVIS: Do you understand what her concern is at all? Do you see anything?
SNUFFER: Yes. Slavery was wrong.
DAVIS: Slavery was wrong.
SNUFFER: It was wrong.
DAVIS: It was wrong.
SNUFFER: But there were white slaves, too. You don't hear about that.
SNUFFER: You'll never hear about the white slaves.
[15:30:12] SIDNER (on camera): And with that last sentence, Imperial Wizard Snuffer used a tactic that is employed by racists to try and equate somehow the hundreds of years of institutional generational slavery forced on black people with what happened to the Irish here in America when they had to suffer through indentured servitude.
But none of that fazes Daryl Davis. His philosophy is when the conversation ceases, there is fertile ground for violence and hatred.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: So refreshing, Sara, to see people talking to each other and not at each other, and listening to one another.
I want to bring in Susan Bro. She is the mother of Charlottesville victim, Heather Heyer. She's working to keep her daughter's message of social justice alive. She's the founder now of the Heather Heyer Foundation.
Susan, thank you for spending time with us.
How are you doing? How are you coping with your daughter's death? SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: I stay busy. I cry when I need
to. And I work hard to stay busy. Focusing on the foundation, getting the word out. Just trying to bring about some of those difficult conversations like those two gentlemen just had. That's how we're going to figure out how to make this country work again.
CABRERA: In some ways, I know you feel like you still have to protect Heather. Tell us what's going on.
BRO: I don't know if I'm being paranoid or not. I'm just not willing to take a chance. I'm protecting my child's remains. I think any parent would do that, given the hostility of the alt-right and the KKK in these circumstances. I'm just not willing to have her grave disturbed. I'm not willing to have -- not willing to have anybody have anything to do with it. I'm keeping it private just for family.
CABRERA: Do you feel threatened or under attack in some way?
BRO: Not currently. I have in the past. There have been threats in the past. If there are threats being -- coming out currently, people are not telling me. At one time, the FBI was letting me know when there were threats, and we, from time to time, get hate mail at the office. From time to time, on the e-mail. Those I pretty much ignore. I just -- I keep a more watchful eye than I would have otherwise.
CABRERA: It's so eye opening. I find it crazy that anybody would send you hate mail because of Heather's situation. I mean, who is sending this? What is their message?
BRO: Usually, it will be along the line of, "I wish more of those hmm-hmm had been killed, and she shouldn't have been there in the first place. She was obviously walking down the street throwing urine and carrying a baseball bat and smashing windows." And none of those are true.
BRO: She wasn't even walking down a street She was on a closed-off section of the downtown mall.
CABRERA: Wow. This week, we saw the start of the trial for your daughter's accused killer. What was it like to see him in court?
BRO: I was -- to say the least, not moved by anything I heard come from his side.
CABRERA: Was it hard?
BRO: Hard in the sense of on me? No. I actually snorted in the courtroom very quietly, so I didn't get kicked out when I heard statements that were made by him. He didn't actually speak in court, of course, but, yes, I'm not impressed.
CABRERA: You must feel something toward him.
BRO: Well, I'm not happy with him.
CABRERA: Yes. It's striking to me that you also don't say that you're angry with him.
BRO: There are times I am. What's the use? Is I can't live in anger. It's note a sustainable emotion. It does come over me at times. I'm not going to deny that. But I can't -- I can't live in hate. I can't live in anger. I do want justice done. And I was very happy to see that the evidence shown in court definitely substantiates the first-degree murder Charge as opposed to a second degree.
CABRERA: Since that Unite the Right rally where your daughter died, some of those Neo-Nazis have returned to Charlottesville. In fact, we saw they were there at that court appearance. What are your thoughts about that? They are still going for it?
[15:35:04] BRO: They're going to continue to as long as they get attention to it. For whatever reason, they've picked our town where we don't agree but manage to get along most of the time. They picked our town for the stomping ground, so not surprised. They're going to keep showing up for a while.
CABRERA: Obviously, they feel empowered, clearly. There was the controversy surrounding the president's handling of what happened. Do you feel he has sent a clear message condemning white supremacism?
BRO: Of course not. He only calls people out when he's called out.
CABRERA: So in some ways, am I hearing you say he shares in the blame of this movement?
BRO: I don't know if he shares in the blame or not, but I know he is not lending to the discourse where we're going to solve our divides. He's encouraging divides.
CABRERA: Did you ever end up taking to him? I remember you had received several phone calls on the day of your daughter's funeral and hadn't actually spoken with anybody on the other end, but believed there had been phone calls from the White House directly.
BRO: Right. There were three phone calls that day. I didn't see them simply because I had my phone turned off for the funeral.
CABRERA: Did you end up talking with the president?
BRO: No. No. After the funeral, we had family over and took the dog to the vet and caught our breath and sat down and watched the news and was looking through my phone about the same time.
CABRERA: What would you like to see the president say or do? What could he do to help this country move beyond and to prevent something like what happened in Charlottesville from happening again?
BRO: Stop tweeting. Think before you speak. And only tell the truth. And I think if you'll just settle into those things, everything will take care of itself.
CABRERA: Before I let you go, tell us about the work you're doing to honor your daughter's memory.
BRO: Well, the Heather Heyer Foundation grew out of all the money people were sending in, because I said this is not all for family. We've got to figure out what we need to do with this. So Alfred Wilson of Miller Law Group, who was her supervisor, and I, decided together we would join our efforts, and form the Heather Heyer Foundation. And the focus of that is scholarships for people who are going into degrees or certifications in the areas of social justice, paralegals, like Heather was, lawyers, social workers, educators. I talked to one young man and possibly even screen writers. But we're looking for people to further the cause of social justice. And we've also started working with the AIDS Health Care Foundation on youth empowerment projects, to have them see what youth are doing to stand against hate in their own community, and then we will help provide them with grants. The AIDS Health Care Foundation will award the top- three winners. And the Heather Heyer Foundation will have matching grants for the other two winners to help start some youth health programs that the youths themselves are doing.
CABRERA: Sounds like such a noble cause, such a wonderful thing to be doing for our country, for your community and beyond.
Susan Bro, thank you for taking the time. And as always, our thoughts are with your family after what happened to Heather. My heart just is with you in the strongest sense. As a mother myself, I can't imagine being in your shoes. Good to talk with you.
BRO: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[15:38:51] CABRERA: Coming up, an update to a story that went viral a few weeks ago. A police officer adopting an opioid-addicted mother's addicted baby. We'll tell you how the mother is doing now, next.
CABRERA: Now an update to a CNN story that touched millions on social media about a police officer who adopted a homeless opioid addict's baby. After our story aired, several rehab facilities across the country offered to help that baby's mother and her partner. But did they seize the opportunity to get clean are?
CNN's Ed Lavandera has an update on the mother, and the police officer who went "Beyond the Call of Duty" to help her.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crystal Champ flies a sign in an Albuquerque, New Mexico, intersection, scrapping together the money she needs to live and to pay for the heroin that controls her life.
Crystal was at the center of a CNN story that touched tens of millions of people around the world.
(on camera): After the story ran, there were a lot of people worried about you and wanted to see good things happen for you and to get clean. How does that make you feel? What do you take away from that?
CRYSTAL CHAMP, MOTHER OF BABY HOPE & ADDICTED TO HEROIN: It's nice to know that people care.
OFC. RYAN HOLETS, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'm not going to lie. It looks like you guys are getting ready to shoot up over here.
LAVANDERA: In September, Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets found Crystal eight months pregnant, homeless, shooting up heroin with her partner, Tom.
HOLETS: How far along are you?
CHAMPS: Eight months.
HOLDITS: Oh, my gosh.
LAVANDERA: Nearly three weeks after that chance encounter, Crystal gave birth to Baby Hope. And Officer Holets and his family offered to adopt the baby. They guided the newborn from the painful withdrawals from Heroin and crystal meth.
Today, Baby Hope is doing well, bright eyed and smiling.
[15:45:05] LAVANDERA: But the story didn't end there for Officer Holets.
CHAMP: He basically adopted us, too.
LAVANDERA: The accolades mean nothing if he can't help Crystal and Tom.
HOLETS: They're not obviously my family members, and I met them a couple of months ago, but I feel like -- the same way that I would feel if any were my brother and my sister.
LAVANDERA: After the story aired on CNN, several rehab centers around the country offered to help Crystal and her partner. But the grip of heroin is so strong, that Crystal believes she can't leave this life.
CHAMP: I know what it takes for me to get sober, and it is not easy.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Because you're scared?
CHAMP: Yes. I'm scared that I'll get clean and, you know, not find the comfort that I find in my life like this. LAVANDERA (voice-over): A rehab interventionist approached Crystal
and Tom and there was a break through. They both agreed to leave their life of addiction behind and take the offer to enter a rehab center in Florida.
LAVANDERA: Ryan Holets, with a smile, escorted them to the airport.
(on camera): What does it mean that Ryan and his family haven't given up on you, they're still trying to help you?
CHAMP: I think he really believes in me. He's my personal angel on earth here. I don't know where he came from, but I'm really happy. I'm happy he's here.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): But when Officer Holets and the rehab team arrive at the airport for the flight for their flight to Florida --
LAVANDERA: -- Crystal and Tom unravel.
CHAMP: I don't want to do this. I'm happy. I'm fine being here.
LAVANDERA: Ryan Holets looks on heartbroken.
HOLETS: We tried. We tried to get them into the rehab, and they wouldn't go.
LAVANDERA: Crystal and Tom missed the flight.
HOLETS: I think that's a testament to just how strong addiction is, and -- but what it makes people do isn't logical.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Do you give up on them?
HOLETS: I'll never give up. I won't.
LAVANDERA: You could walk away if you wanted. Why don't you?
HOLETS: I can't. I just can't. They're Hope's parents.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ryan Holets still has hope.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
CABRERA: After we shot this story, Crystal and Tom boarded the plane for Florida and entered rehab. So our best wishes to them.
Coming up, the latest "Star Wars" movie is expected to do very well at the box office, but just how are fans reacting? We'll hear from fans. And promise, no spoilers, next.
[15:52:27] CABRERA: "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," a force to reckoned with at the box office. The eighth installment of the series is poised to have one of the biggest openings of the galaxy. "Variety" reporting that the film will earn around $215 million this week. And it comes behind the previous "Star Wars" film, "The Force Awakens," for an all-time weekend's earnings.
CNN Kaylee Hartung has been speaking with fans coming out of an Atlanta theater.
Kaylee, we don't want to give anything away but what are fans saying?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fantastic. Awesome. Those are some of the superlatives that fans are sharing with me today.
The theater behind me just emptied out. I could not find a person who didn't enjoy their experience of watching "The Last Jedi," which was interesting to find, because on the film review site, Rotten Tomatoes, only 56 percent of users who reviewed it said they liked the movie.
Here at the theater, in my very unscientific method of questioning them all, one of the things that's interesting to see families coming to the movies together. So many parents grew up watching the original "Star Wars" films and want to share the experience with their children.
For anyone thinking of sitting this film out, listen to this man's advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: Right out of the theater, what's your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic movie. Glad we came to see it. I loved it. I have been a "Star Wars" fan since I was a kid. They've outdone themselves this time.
HARTUNG: Where does this one rank among the eight? You've been a "Star Wars" fan since you were a kid. I am guessing you have seen them all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen them all. This is probably, at this stage, number one.
HARTUNG: Number one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number one. Just the way they tied everything together and all the characters, their interactions. I think it is fantastic.
HARTUNG: No spoilers, but do you think we'll be set up for number nine now? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is an interesting question. But, yes, there
are certain things that they did that allowed, I think, nine to be really good.
HARTUNG: If any "Star Wars" weighing in, or critics saying don't spend your time to see this movie, what's your sale to get here to the theater and see this movie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are watching this now and you have not seen "Star Wars," you are wrong. Get to the theater and see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: Now I feel that as soon I wrap up here, I need to get to the theater, Ana.
Something else to mention, as one fan did, how emotional it was to see Carrie Fisher on screen for the last time.
[15:55:06] CABRERA: Yes, I forgot about that. Quite the endorsement of the movie there.
Kaylee, thank you very much.
For many, this time of the year is about giving back. But the 11th Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute salutes 10 people who put others first all years long. It airs live tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern. Prepare to be inspired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: These are every day heroes. They inspire and change lives every day.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: We want to make sure they make better choices when it comes to violence.
UNIDENTIFEID CNN HERO: When you lose your child, the love doesn't go away and has to find a place. So lucky I found a place to put that love.
ANNOUNCER: They are truly what it means to be a hero.
UNIDENTIFEID CNN HERO: It is people helping people the best way we know how.
UNIDENTIFEID CNN HERO: When they see me, they always feel happy.
UNIDENTIFEID CNN HERO: Give them a chance, they can do anything you ask them to do.
ANNOUNCER: This Sunday night, CNN presents a very special live event. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Anderson Cooper.
KELLY RIPA, TALK SHOW HOST & TELEVISION PRODUCER: And I'm Kelly Ripa.
COOPER: Join us live for CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute.
ANNOUNCER: CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute, live, Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)